Thursday 30 November 2017

Extreme Weather Event To Hit Melbourne Friday/Saturday

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning with heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast to move across the state from the west from Thursday night.

Senior forecaster Scott Williams said the heaviest storms were set to hit Melbourne and the state's north and north-east late on Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday.

"I don't think I've ever seen such a deep low form over Victoria whilst we've got this moisture around," he said.
"So to that extent we are a little bit in unchartered territory in terms of the weather.

"This is a very big event, a very widescale event and it’s right at the top end of rainfalls we’ve seen in the last 30 years.”

If current predictions transpire most of the severe action will take place overnight but Traders may need to prepare for extreme rain conditions. For instance, traders in J,K Sheds may experience flooding and stock damage at the back of their stalls as the drains in the dip between the two sheds overflow. This has become an irregular but potentially damaging event over the years and the conditions in the photo above occurred earlier this month. Other areas of the market will have known issues.

Have Your Say - click here.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

QVM In The News - 29/11/2017

We needed a great shop to do that, and we did put a wonderful little roaster there in the Queen Victoria Market - it's a shop I love, and it's going very ...

Sunday 26 November 2017

Heard Under The Sheds – 26/11/2017

Traders Compensated – A trader sent us a newspaper report including mention of seven Fruit & Vegetable Traders who are required to move for an exploratory architectural dig in A,B sheds on the next two Tuesday’s and will  receive a one week’s rent abatement.

Golf Day – a number of traders who participated in the Golf Day praised the organisation of the day and the opportunity to mix with other traders and management, including the Chairman, in a relaxed environment away from the market.

Stall Cancellations – a trader has complained that the old messaging service seems to have been changed. We understand that the stall cancellation number – 0393205845 – may divert to the Operations Mobile which doesn’t contain a stall cancellation message although messages can still be left and will be picked up by stall allocation staff.

Stallholder Queries – the default email address for general queries used to be but we have been advised that the address is now just for the public. Trader queries should now be sent to the Trader Administration Manager, Peter Shepheard, at . Peter is primarily responsible for handling trader enquiries regarding account balances, leave, and any other administrative issues, Queen St. trader relocation and casual trading.

Selling Stall To Another Trader – the word got around this week that there had been a change in policy which may prevent sale of a stall to another trader. Peter Shepheard has advised us that some recent sales had been rejected because they breached the repetition guidelines. There is at least one sale being considered at the moment involving sale of a stall to a current trader but that will involve a new stall concept, not repetition.

Returning To Stall After NMP Stint – a trader asked at Tuesday’s information session whether a trader who traded in the New Market Pavilion would be returned to his or her old spot under the sheds on completion of their stint in the pavilion. Management doesn’t seem to have a firm policy on this issue and traders will need to make sure it is clearly discussed during their one to one sessions.

More Options For Traders In The Top End – The Expressions of Interest for the New market Pavilion have been postponed pending the appointment of a construction contractor and possible news about new facilities in String Bean Alley.

Trader Awards – we are not sure what category this comes under but T-shirt seller Steve’s action to purchase bulk frozen Zooper Doopers (frozen fruit drinks in a tube) and hand them out to traders during Saturday’s particularly humid conditions deserves recognition. Many thanks Steve.

More On Golf Day – one trader commented that the golf day was really good but some of the golf was really bad.

Golf Day Is A Winner

The annual QVM Golf Day was held on Monday and pitching traders and management against each other resulted in a day that has been universally praised by participants except Jason Penny.

Just to be clear, the teams included a mix of traders and management so it was trader versus trader, and management versus management as well. Our photo shows the winning team of John Kang, Jason Penny, Peter Krechman, and Stephen McLennan who posted an even par 72. The bottom team included Ray, Petros and Radi although the excuse was given that they had to do a risk assessment on each hole.

Some Highlights –
Longest Drive Female – Leah Moore.
Longest Drive Male – Jeff Lourie.
Closest To The Pin – Paul Guerra, and Tien Duc Do.
BBQ Lunch Cooked By – Peter Shepheard and Gianni Persini.
Day Organised by – Andre Storti.

And Jason Penny’s gripe? He missed closest to the pin by 1inch and he feels that deserves a runners-up medal.

Well done to all and at least one participant asked to pass on a special thanks to Andre for his organisation. Bruce Pham took a video on the day and we await the film launch with great anticipation.

What’s Happening In Retail This Week - 26/11/2017

Amazon launch strikes a glitch – Thursdays launch of the Amazon Australia website struck a glitch according to news sources with consumers unable to access their site. It turns out that Amazon had only made the site available to a small group of testers. Presumably all the publicity was welcomed by Amazon as they continue to tease consumers and rivals with their plans.

Specialty Fashion Group to close 300 stores – the owners of brands like Katies, Millers, and Rivers have announced that they are reducing their store footprint with a reduction from around 1000 stores currently to 700 stores by 2020. SFG reported an after tax loss of $8.4m for the FY2017.

Bunnings to finally offer online ordering in 2018. – Bunnings will offer their Special Orders range online in 2018. This range covers items that are not held in stock but are ordered in for the customer. Special orders could previously only be ordered in-store.

Jack Ma gives advice to start-ups – “If it is hot, forget it” – see full article here -

Fruit Market Operator Fined Over $660,000 - The operator of the Sunshine Fruit Market was fined a record $660,000 for incorrectly paying a worker, an Afghan refugee, including a period when the worker received no pay at all. The underpayments date back to 2012 and became the subject of litigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

One Liners:

1. Deloittes say retailers downbeat about growth prospects this Christmas.
2. Baby Bunting downgrades its full year guidance.
3. Walmarts online sales up 50% last quarter.
4. Old Navy sales drives Gap performance.
5. RBA warns banks about passing Tap-n-Go costs to retailers.
6. Woolworths launches new sustainability effort on waste.
7. Uniqlo to open 5th Melbourne store at Highpoint.
8. Ikea recalls dressers as 8th child dies.
9. Kathmandu raises profit with lower sales and better margins.
10. Harrods to spent millions re-furbishing for Asian market.
11. Myer battle continues as AGM rejects Lew position on Board.
12. Woolworths to open more “Dark Stores” (warehouses for e-commerce).

QVM In The News - 26/11/2017

An essential guide to incredible produce, it features the bakeries, butchers, delis, grocers, fishmongers, bottle shops and more that help take Melbourne's food culture to another level. Established on a cemetery in 1878, Queen Victoria Market crept from Elizabeth up to Peel Street and continues to bloom.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks were partly described as a protest against Western excesses and there have been many who have since questioned their philosophies about spending and the relevance of buying goods versus personal connections and other higher level activities.

This month a post came up on my facebook feed labelled Buy Nothing New Month Australia which was all about saving our planet from excess. The theme was to give a gift that didn’t add to waste on our planet.

The photo below looks like a Jackson Pollock painting but in fact it is a photo of a football field size dump of bicycles - the sorts of bikes that have been littering the streets (and rivers) of Melbourne over recent months. This photo was taken in Shanghai where three companies fill the streets with their rental bikes. Well, actually there are now two because one of those companies has just gone broke. The waste of resources on fairly new items is mind blowing.

Associated Press reported a couple of days ago on global protests aimed at Black Friday, the manic sales event that attempts to create a buying frenzy with outstanding discount offers. Protests in France were particularly strong and raised claims that irresponsible consumerism was against French culture.

Incidentally, Amazon have listed the top five items being sold in their Black Friday sales as – the Echo Dot smart speaker, the Fire TV Stick which streams content to your TV, a Smart Plug that allows remote control of devices in the home, the Instant Pot which is a combination pressure cooker/ slow cooker/ rice cooker, and finally a DNA Testing Kit.

Clearly the consumption debate needs some balanced thinking and it might pay to give some thought to how your product range fits into the whole scheme of consumer sentiment. There is little doubt that many of your customers are thinking about the relevance and morality of their purchases.

Have Your Say – click here.

A Big Tick For Direct Action

You might have noticed that Vicfree WiFi wasn’t operating within the market for at least a few days this week. We have come to rely on the wifi as an important tool for our customers and also our own communication. So what do you do when technology fails?

Well, one of our traders decided not to wait for others to take action and sent an email direct to Vicfree.
Just informing you that the Queen Victoria Market vic free wifi has not been functioning for about a week. At times it appears when searching wifi but an alert comes up saying "Unable to join the network"."

Within 24hrs Vicfree responded directly to the trader with a personal email and a promise to take the issue up with the technology providers, TPG. Another 24 hrs and the problem was fixed so that by Saturday full service was restored.

A Big Tick here for Vicfree who responded so quickly with a personal email and to our trader who decided that direct action was the best solution. 

Is This The Ultimate Experience In Retailing

The Museum of Ice Cream is a new venture in the US that takes experience shopping to a new level and uses a most delicious format but we think we have an alternative at QVM.

The US store celebrates Ice Cream and is all about having a fun time in the process with dipping pools of sprinkles, tastings, and fun museum style displays. Tickets to stores in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco are generally sold out. Did we say tickets? Yes, you pay around US$38 for a visit. The concept is reminiscent of the Legoland Discovery Centres here in Melbourne where a visiting fee is charged for the experience.

And we can’t help but think that this raises a whole set of possibilities for QVM – 

A Museum of Sausage.

A Museum of Fish

A Museum of Creative Entrepreneurs

We think we could be on to something here. While the Museum of Ice Cream concentrates just on product, we can concentrate on the product and the people for a whole new take on retail experience. That is definitely worth an admission fee.

The Three Most Important Things In Retail Right Now

There are far too many words of advice for retailers about a bewildering range of options and sometimes you just don’t want to be the guinea pig for the next new thing. But, this short list of essentials may be useful in assessing what is important.

3. Third on our list is customer engagement. Finding ways to engage with customers is essential to today’s retailing and the competition is intense. Bigger retailers rely on big data which is resource intensive but smaller retailers have many convenient forms of engagement in social media and websites that with a moderate amount of time and effort can reap rewards. And let’s not forgot that incredibly important engagement when a customer visits your shop or stall. What you learn from face to face discussion with customers is gold.

2. Second is exclusivity. We know that having that one single product that is in huge demand, but nobody else has, is the holy grail of retailing. Reality rarely gives us that exclusivity but we can differentiate ourselves on many levels. Price, presentation, range, availability, experiences, choice, are just some of the ways we can rise above the pack.

1. And the number one, most important ingredient in retailing right now is convenience. This is not just about online, although online is a great example of modern convenience at work. For customers, sitting on your couch in a quiet time and shopping on your phone or tablet can be very convenient. But equally, being able to easily find what you are looking for, having access to a full range of options, paying in a way that suits you, organising delivery, organising packaging if you want to takeaway or send yourself, and then being able to track and follow up, are all conveniences that are becoming expected, and can make physical shopping a truly joyful experience. And let’s not forget the convenience of true expert opinion from the seller to help make your choice.

Friday 24 November 2017

New Market Pavilion Applications Postponed Until New Year

Trading opportunities in the New Market Pavilion on Queen St. have been eagerly anticipated. This cutting edge trading facility could offer a great solution for traders prepared to try new arrangements.

Applications from traders to be part of the Pavilion were to open next week along with a special Information Session. Both the commencement of applications and the information session have now been postponed until early 2018.

The reason for the delay is to allow details of the final design to be formalised and this cannot happen until the construction contractor is appointed. It was also indicated at a trader information session on Tuesday that there may be other new facilities for traders. We are guessing that this relates to String Bean Alley and the possibility of new facilities to enable trading on both sides of that aisle. Traders will no doubt like to know about both opportunities before applying.

Either way, it is expected that traders will receive notification of new opportunities in plenty of time to participate.

Have Your Say – click here.

Separating Work From Private Life, And Why Traders Don’t Attend Meetings

When you think about it, Market Traders have a big advantage over many of our contemporaries. We can put closure on our days work and focus on things like family, social activities, or just plain relaxing, much easier than other groups.

Workplace literature is full of suggestions for seperating work and private life as an important component of maintaining healthy minds and avoiding work stress. Much has been written about setting markers at the end of the working day to achieve that separation.  For market traders closing the shop front or, probably the ultimate separation, completely packing up your stall, is a great way of stepping away from work.

This sort of end-of-day activity might explain why it can be so difficult to get Market Traders to attend after hours information sessions. They have already switched off in a very positive and clear way. There is no blurring of lines between work and private life for Market Traders. The door is closed, or the stall us packed, and “I’m off!”

Of course even market traders can sometimes find it hard to turn off. And this is where the literature designed for the rest of the workforce can include some handy tips -
1.     Write notes - anything left undone at the end of the trading day should be parked on a written list for attention when you re-open.
2.     Leave your stall or shop tidy - that cements the completion of the day and readiness for tomorrow.
3.     Develop techniques for answering that inevitable after hours question from family or friends - “How was your day?” or “How was business?”. You don’t really want to step back into business mode so maybe divert the question by recalling a happy social event during the day, perhaps a great customer, or return with the question “My day was fine. What great things happened for you today?”
4.     “Focus on the things you can control”. This is a recent line from Michelle Obama that has particular relevance for Market Traders. There are many factors influencing retail right now over which we have little or no control. The things that we can productively focus on are presenting our businesses in the best possible light, and excelling in customer service. The rest just has too many frustrations.

Good luck with your own work/private life balance.

Digging For More History Under A,B,C Sheds

The Queen Victoria market has plenty of history associated with it, but it would seem there is room for more as archaeological digs currently underway search for old buildings and social activity prior to the market under Sheds A,B and C.

The photo above shows archaeologists using hand tools to reveal old structures.

And this photo shows evidence of footings for the Volunteer Rifle Corps Orderly Room prior to the 1870's.

More detail can be found in this Herald-Sun Article on Thursday - 

Preliminary excavations have found evidence of a 19th century military drill hall facing Victoria St, while the hunt is on for the remains of a temperance ...

Tuesday 21 November 2017

General Merchandise Briefing Reveals More Detail About Renewal

Today was the first of the after-market briefings for QVM General Merchandise Traders concerning the relocations that will occur early in the new year as construction starts under A-D Sheds.

General principles relating to relocation of traders, allocation of space, and operational adjustments were outlined in this move that may affect 100’s of top end traders, particularly those in C-D Sheds.

Traders who did not attend today’s briefing will have another opportunity on Thursday 23rd November to hear what is proposed, ask questions, and contribute to the debate. Executive Chair Paul Guerra warned that traders who did not turn up to the briefing couldn’t complain about the final outcome.

There is a lot to take in at the briefing and some traders will be significantly impacted by relocation. Parking a vehicle in your stall, occupying a corner position, operating multiple stalls, spreading your stall, or operating next to a vacant stall may involve you in change as the market is adjusted to fit all traders into a smaller space.  

The next and final briefing will take place in air-conditioned comfort at the Engagement Hub on Queen St. at 3:00pm this coming Thursday 23rd November. 

QVM In The News - 21/11/2017

Picture: Grimshaw Architects The proposed below-ground operational area of the A to D Sheds at the Queen Victoria Market. Victoria St on the left, Peel St on the right. Picture: City of Melbourne. Heritage Victoria is assessing the council's permit application and has received about 1600 submissions, ...

Sunday 19 November 2017

Heard Under The Sheds – 19/11/2017

First Night Of Summer Night Market – produced some mixed sales reports with at least one new trader happy with his first night although others reporting a slow start to the season. Once again we had competition from the Noodle Night Market on the Yarra River which runs nightly until 26/11/2017 and attracts thousands of diners.

TRC – apparently our missing Trader Representatives turned up to this month’s meeting of the TRC on Thursday and descriptions of events included “productive”, and “robust”. Their attendance followed reports that management were actively seeking attendance from secondary representatives. In the end it must have been a crowded room. Unfortunately we have no detail on what was discussed although we believe it included car parking, trading hours, trader relocation, and the New Market Pavilion.

Ex Marketing Director Behind The Counter – ex Marketing Director, Mark Scott, has purchased Bill’s Farm in the Deli Hall and could be found behind the counter this week as he eased into the demanding process of running a QVM Deli Shop.

One Trader reported that he had never heard so many traders questioning their future at QVM as we near the traditional Christmas trading period and the very lean months that can follow.

Theft – the recent videos posted by one of our traders showing customers thieving stock from their stall has raised the possibility of a trader communication system that can target likely offenders. Apparently thieves who are caught often have goods from multiple stalls and a simple communication network based on mobile phone messaging may be a good deterrent. What do traders think?

Flooding – Saturday’s extreme weather conditions fortunately occurred well after closing time although some traders got caught as Mother Nature once again decided to turn the dip between J Shed and K Shed into a temporary stream. Weather proofing and protection remains a hot topic for traders and customers.

Tram Stop Advertising of our Market Champions in the CBD is to be expanded to include bus stops in a wider suburban promotion leading up to Christmas.

QVM's New CEO - one trader commented that if Malcolm McCullough was frustrated getting issues through City of Melbourne, Stan Liacos' background with City of Bendigo and his involvement with State Government might have him better positioned.

Trader Awards Night - we understand the awards night is still on the agenda and will be linked up with 140th Anniversary celebrations in 2018.

Have Your Say - click here.

What Is Happening In Retail – 19/11/2017

Preston Market Shoppers Fuming – Preston Market’s much hyped Sunday opening last weekend turned into a PR disaster when customers complained about lack of choice as many Fruit & Vegetable stallholders failed to turn up. Some traders have vehemently opposed Sunday trading, which they claim will place an unfair burden on stallholders, but it would appear the public were not impressed.

Even Some Of The Retail Darlings Are Struggling – a ripple went through leasing circles this week as rock star retailer, Zara, approached owners to break their lease at the Robina Shopping centre on the Gold Coast due to poor business levels. Zara opened up at the nearby Pacific Centre last year.

Black Friday Loses Its Appeal – Fast Company has reported that consumers are becoming dis-enchanted with Black Friday, the mega sales day that follows Thanksgiving. Apparently they claim there is just too much stress associated with the one focussed day and many prefer to wait for the second week of Christmas to get active with their shopping.

Failure Is Good - Retailers Need To Change The Way They Tackle Innovation – following is a link to an article on the Harvard Business Review that challenges the way we tackle change in the retail industry including the need for a culture that allows failure.

QVM Launches Christmas – this link came through on our Google newsfeed this week -

News In Brief:
1.     Alibaba breaks record for “Singles Day” sales.
2.     Hugo Boss wholesale channel declines slightly as it ramps up in-store performance improvement.
3.     Amazon says thousands of sellers have joined its Australian operation.
4.     Womens wear retailer, Decjuba, launches mobile focussed website.
5.     Australians spend around $230 per month on fast food and dining out.
6.     Oxford Street, London, to close off street to cars, and create pedestrian mall.
7.     Woolworths focuses on local produce in its “Share the spirit of Christmas” campaign.
8.     The Iconic and General Pants show interest in Surfstitch.
9.     Amazon says Australian launch is “really, really close”.
10.            Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall is the seventh most expensive retail street in the world.
11.            David Jones retail sales decline by 5.3%
12.            Bunnings will continue to make losses in challenging UK market.
13.            ACCC warns large clothing retailers about their consumer guarantees amidst rising consumer complaints.

14.            Walmart lifts profit outlook.

Have Your Say - click here.

The Great News About Online And Physical Stores For Market Traders

As this retail revolution carves its way through established retail practices, we are constantly looking for some bedrock, some indication of how the revolution will settle on a new order that we can all access.

One major debate surrounds the role of online and physical stores, and at last we may have some clarity. The debate started with the premise that online would replace physical stores, and understandably retailers started to get very nervous. Then a couple of onliner’s opened up physical stores, most notably Amazon having desecrated the book industry with its online offer, opened a standard bookstore. It had a lot of technology and links with websites but it was a store you could visit and browse. More followed and the debate shifted to how online and physical stores could co-exist.

A spectacle company, Warby Parker, has provided the latest indication that we might have bedrock. Warby Parker started off solely online. Apparently the premise was that the founders could not afford a chain of physical stores but they could afford a website and with some clever technology and clear focus, they thrived. Then they took the step of opening a few physical stores and now they have eight. The good news (let’s make that “great news”) is that they now conduct more sales through their physical store than online – see

The Atlantic article states – “They were averaging $3,000 a square foot annually, higher than Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, and practically every company not named Apple. By the end of this year, the company will have about 65 storefronts.” It should be noted that more than half Warby Parker’s customers go to their website before they visit a store.

There are two things to be taken from this example –
1.     Physical stores are not dead, they are just evolving.
2.     A website is the key to being part of this evolution.

QVM’s New CEO Has An Interesting Background

QVM's new CEO, Stan Liacos, has a history of getting things done and the variety of projects he has headed up make for interesting reading. If you are looking for core retail experience then stop now because his background is not in retail although he does have a Masters in Marketing (Melbourne) and plenty of experience in conceptualising, financing, and leading major projects.

Those of you familiar with regional Victoria will be aware of the rise of The City of Bendigo as our premier City and much of that progress has been put down to Stan Liacos in his role as Director - City Futures. How he translates that energy and skill to QVM will be watched with great interest.

His last role was Regional Director with the Victorian Government from 2015 – 2017, but prior to that he spent 10 years with the City of Bendigo as Director, City Futures. That role gave him responsibility for  Major Projects; Economic Development; Tourism; Destination Marketing; and specific City locations.

Mr Liacos’ ability to secure funding for projects was highly regarded. He was instrumental in obtaining funding for the Bendigo Airport expansion ($15M), the Greater Bendigo Indoor Aquatic Leisure and Wellbeing Centre ($30M) and the Bendigo Stadium expansion ($18M). Some high profile acquisitions during his tenure included the Marilyn Munroe and Grace Kelly exhibitions which were considered coups for a regional city.

We like a quote from an interview in the Bendigo Weekly which said – ‘’The only way to get things done is to do things and not plan ponder and analyse to death.’’ - Stan Liacos.

More reading and viewing:

QVM Traders Might Need To Set Their Sights Higher

The middle ground of customers has long been the target of retailers, particularly department stores but if a recent analysis of Walmart in the US is any guide that is all changing and the middle ground is being clearly ignored in favour of more upmarket offerings.

Walmart have just announced something quite unusual in today’s retail world- a 2.7% increase in year on year sales and observers are impressed. At least one commentator is putting that down to a focus on more upmarket offerings. Walmart know that chasing business down market has its problems, mainly maintaining a reasonable profit with super low prices. But upmarket has potential, and acquisitions by Walmart including Bonobos fashion, and more recently an association with Lord & Taylor, the oldest luxury department store in the United States, has them heading in that direction with great gusto. Walmart says it is going to turn its website into a “premium fashion destination”.

The thinking is that more and more people are dropping out of middle class and into working class jobs while the number of millionaires across the globe is rising. The gap between lower and upper classes is widening and every retailer needs to position itself to chase business wherever it heads. At the same time buying trends are changed by things like technology, and the number of people prepared to spend $1200 on a new mobile phone, no matter what class they are in, is quite bewildering.

Maybe it is time market traders looked at targeting more upmarket customers with their product ranges. QVM has long been regarded as a place for fresh food and bargains but if an iconic retailer like Walmart can successfully challenge old norms then surely market traders can do the same. And by the way, one of the advantages of operating a website is that you can offer new ranges almost immediately to test the water.

Times are changing and perhaps it is time for traders to put on that gold plated thinking cap.

Have Your Say – click here.